Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Confessions of a Mama who Broke the Punitive Cycle

This honest mama kicks off our “parenting confessions” theme for the month. If you want to share your experience of learning about parenting methods or switching from one method to another, please email your submission.

© 2012 Yardana

”I'm not exactly sure who recommended that I add you, but someone thought we'd be a good match based on our strong feelings against vaccination. Before I added you, I had a look at your page and the list of topics you discussed. I agreed with so many of your opinions, however, one thing stood out to me. You were against time-outs and punishment.

What does that even mean, I thought to myself. I had never even in my life heard of a child not getting time-outs, that's how normal they were to me. Why would anybody be against such a normal way-THE way-of correcting behaviour? I began to research online. I began to search my heart honestly.

Tears flowed down my face as I remembered being a child, sitting in my room, crying my eyes out. I remembered stomping my feet until they bruised. To this day, my heels ache and I cannot lie flat on my back or sit with my feet in front of me because they are so tender. I remember throwing things against the wall, denting the wall and breaking my things. As a teenager, I even sat in my room and smoked cigarettes, sometimes even used a razor on my skin.

I had nobody there to listen or love. I was "rude", I was "inconsiderate", and sometimes I was even a "bitch." I remember a distinct feeling, a deep knowing, that I was only loved if I behaved. I acted out so horrifically; my mother allowed me to do anything I wanted as long as I did all my housework and didn't talk back. Of course, I gave her flack, because I was upset at all the things I had to learn the hard way. So of course I was punished. My mother called herself a gentle, peaceful parent...and even so, she made me promise that I would be a better mother to my child, when the time came, than she was to me.

I remembered how I felt. I thought for a second about my child. Did I want my child feeling the way I did? I never want him to feel that he is unloved or unaccepted based on what mood he is in or how he is acting. And so I have learned better ways.

My husband and I took a vow never to give a spanking, never to give a time out, no grounding, no name-calling or shaming (such as using the word naughty.) I know now that so much of the pain in my life, both physically and mentally, is from time-outs and other similar punishment.

I learned that some of the most peaceful people in my life had never been punished or given a time-out. I learned the true meaning of having a peaceful home, and being a better parent and a better person. I cannot tell you how much it means to me that I happened to stumble across those few words on your profile, for if I hadn't, I might have never known. I tear up thinking of the person I might be today.

So, thank you. Thank you on behalf of my entire family. Because of one simple idea that you planted, one more child in this world is living in peace. We have stayed committed to our vow and our child has not been punished.

Love and light.

Physical punishment is not the only thing that hurts.

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  1. I stumbled across your site and just have to respectfully disagree. As a teacher, punishments are often necessary, while we do try to use positive reinforcement as much as possible, sometimes students have to receive punishment for their crimes. I've had students who bully and a simple talking to does not do it. They don't feel ashamed of their thoughts or treatment of others until they face something being taken away from them. It's simple, if someone broke into your house and stole something from you, would you want them to be punished? Of course. You may not favor jail time and/or the fact that they are punished will not change the fact that you had something taken away from you. You might not like the way the state punishes them for their crimes, but I guarantee, at the least, you'd want your things back. Yes, you felt alone. You did something wrong, though, and you should feel a little guilt for what you did. Obviously, if you were smoking cigarettes and cutting yourself, the punishment didn't fit the offender, and your parents should have considered some other sort of punishment. I received spankings as a child, and I will, if I feel it necessary, spank my child if I see that it is a punishment that works for them. However, spankings were not effective on my little brother. In school, we also vary the punishments, not always on the crime, but on the offender and how they respond. Sometimes a stern "talking to" will do the trick, sometimes they need a paddling. And, funny enough, those kids whose parents refuse paddling are usually the worst.

  2. How sad that you feel pre-developed toddlers are equal to adults who break into homes and steal.

    Even a thief who breaks into your home is not spanked. It's illegal, in fact, to spank an inmate. The punishment you defend for your minor child, who is not yet developed and able to make informed decisions, is harsher than what incarcerated adults receive for their premeditated crimes.

  3. I did not equivalent a toddler to an adult. I used it as an example of someone who is punished for a wrong doing. Like I stated before, not all punishments work for all children. The punishment should not only fit the crime, but the offender. I have seen children who, after a spanking, turn around and hug their parents after sulking for a few minutes. I have seen children, who after the "look" continue with their wrong doings. Spanking didn't hurt me as an adult. I knew that when I did something wrong, I would be punished. As a child, I strove to do things that wouldn't get me punished and to make my parents proud of my decisions. That resulted in me being one of the first in my family to graduate high school and college.
    And, if you've ever been to a jail or prison, you would know that some people would much rather be spanked than stay one day longer in those places. Again, this goes to my argument that the punishment should not only fit the crime but the offender.

  4. I do not want my children to ever hug someone after being physically punished. It's clear that our goals for our children differ, and will not find common ground. It disturbs me just to imagine that. Please do dwell on the deeper concepts here and what we are doing to our children.

    The majority of people in our country have been at least physically punished, if not also emotionally and verbally. The jail analogy is not a strong point.

    If there is never a time when a grown adult going to jail can be physically hit, then there is NEVER a time when a developing, small child should EVER be hit. Ever.

  5. It shouldn't disturb you that we can't find common ground on parenting. That's the problem with such arguments. If you disagree with me, you're wrong and I'm appalled. Whatever happened to agreeing to disagree. I've enjoyed the discussions we've had, and would hope that someone would not resort to those sorts of blows.

  6. I think if you read my comment again, you will see that I am disturbed to imagine a child thanking a parent for being physically punished. I do think you're wrong to defend any physical punishment against a minor, or anyone who cannot fight back. That's the thing...I don't believe in all things being equal. An opinion about your favorite color, your favorite food or what sport you like to play is one opinion about hitting a smaller, less developed person...I will definitely carry a stance on that. And I will continue to be appalled at how casually people support such behavior.

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